Pausing To Reflect with Lisa Foster
Feb. 8, 2022

Pets! Mom, Please, Can I Have One?

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This week’s episode it’s all about pets! We’re joined by Jann Yankee, mother of two teenage girls and lifetime animal lover. We explore the pros and cons of pets in the household with growing children, the challenges of caretaking for them, and the unconditional love we receive from them. We also discuss the reality that our kids….are never going to help! And please visit the Real Life Momz Facebook group at The group serves as a resource for you - a place to pose your suggestions and questions and experiences to our growing community of Momz :) And don't forget to follow Real Life Momz, so you don't miss an episode.


Welcome to Real Life Momz. I'm your host, Lisa Foster and real life.Real Life Momz is a podcast where real moms have real conversations about real issues of parenting. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about these topics and to continue these conversations through our Real Life Momz, Facebook group, where we would love for you to be part of our community. Today, we are talking with my friend, Jann Yankee about our furry family members. Yes, our pets. So we can be prepared when our kids turn to us and say, mom, please, can I have one?


Hi Jann, welcome to Real Life Momz. Hi, Lisa, and today our topic is pets and I had to invite you because just like me, we are both pet lovers and we have a lot of pets, right? I mean, I have, like, I think at one point I had up to nine pets in my house. Not anymore. I think the most I had was sick. Oh really? Cause I thought you had more, but I have to say three were fish. Okay. Guinea, pigs, durables. And you know, I have three dogs, so yeah.

It's amazing how fast some of them can come and go, come and go. As in like depart, like exactly like crabs.

Oh my, well, I have to say I had, um, we got a frog once. Yes. A frog. And they didn't even make the trip home. Yeah. I'm not sure ours was alive, which was just sad and devastating altogether. Do snails count as pets? I don't know. I happen to love if you have a fish tank, I happen to love the snail because it's the little housekeeper of, I mean it cleans the tank. It's amazing. I don't know if that counts for a pet.

Good question. It's a good question. Yeah. And what I did, which I should have known is that when a snail grows out of its shell, you need to get another one. And I did not know that. So my, my snail got eaten by the fish. I didn't know that, that I didn't know. So that was terrible as well because I loved my snail, Freddie.

Well, I learned that when we had hermit crabs that they grow and you have to have, have a new shell for them to adopt or whatever to grow into. I didn't know. I thought hermit crabs just really smelled bad. And then I, somebody told me, no, they only smell bad when they're dead. Oh. And I said, well, how do you know if they're dead? And they said, well, you can put them in water. And if they come out of their shell to get up to the shop or they don't, you know, anyway, it was definitely dead. Yeah. I just didn't know. I'm not sure how many days it was terrible.

That's terrible. I just thought they smelled bad. But now I know that means they're dead. Okay. Well, that's good to know you learn something new every day. It's funny because did you have pets you in a pet before you had kids, right. Even like, just.

Like before, before kids. Definitely.

Yeah. And so did I, and it's funny because I feel like, you know, the dog before kids right in your adult life is your baby. Just love it. You take it everywhere. It gets such good attention.

Yes. And then the kids come along and no attention from then on.

They become a dog. Right. And it is it's. I mean, I remember somebody saying that to me, like, you know, when I was pregnant with, I had, you know, I had this greater Swiss mountain dog. Who's gorgeous. I mean, she was Sophie with our baby 120 pounds, 120 pounds. But our baby and, and someone told me when I was pregnant, that this dog will, you know, be your dog. And I was like, we're like no nap. And it was so sad. We had our baby and there yep. Our dog became a dog, but I feel like babies and dogs are.

So, I mean, the, it was so precious to see our daughter with, you know, this 120 pounds.

Yes. My daughter used to share her baby pool. Oh, they can get in there together.

Yeah. I mean, it's beautiful. I remember I have a picture of my daughter, literally putting stickers on my, on my dog. I mean, we're talking like 20 stickers along with the door and like pulling them off. And the dog is just like, as happy because at that point, like less attention. Right. So any attention. They're like, oh, so I know it's the sweetest thing. So dogs pre-kids, but then merging into kids. Yeah. There's something very precious.

Yeah. You're reminding me of a story. I have to tell you that my daughter would be mortified. If I, if she knew, I said this, I was trying to get her to be more responsible for the chores for the dog. He was going to give the dog a bath. And I was in the other room trying not to intervene whatsoever. And I kind of asked her, um, were you able to get the dog in? And are you, are you guys doing the bath? She said, well, yeah, I, the dog’s in, and I'm just showing her how I wash my hair so that she'll be ready for it. And I stopped what I was doing.

And I walked in and they're both sitting, facing each other in and she's washing her hair so that she can show the dog. It's not hard. It's okay. It was, but it was not what I expected. No, but.

She watched herself before the dog.

That's right. That's.

Right. And the dog's grossness, but yeah.

Sometimes you just need to let certain things go.

I feel like a lot of parents will ask me what kind of pet should their kid get? Should we get one? Do you get a lot of that too?

Yes. And well, first of all, when they try to tell you, they're going to help do things for the dog, like total lie, they are lying.

I think, I think they think they will. I know.

And you're picking your first pet, just keep in mind. They're absolutely not going.

To help you. And I think that's a great point because I think you have to think about, you know, cause I have, my kids have asked, like they want a pet of their own, right? Like oh, please can we get a Guinea pig. And they like to research it. They save money and they get to buy stuff. And they're really excited about all the benefits of getting it. And you're like, it's a Guinea pig. Right. So you gotta consider like, what is a family pet and what is your pet?

Right. That's right. Just break yourself in gradually.

Yeah. So yeah, we did. We started with Guinea pigs and my daughter really wanted a Guinea pig. And I have to say, I am going to put a plug for the Guinea pig as smelly as can be. They can be totally smelly. Right. Those cages, but they don't bite. Right. They are decile. Yeah. And what kids really like about Guinea pigs is that they want to hold something like right. They want to actually snuggle and pet and they, you can carry a Guinea pig around like a baby and it's, it's not going anywhere.

It's got nothing. It's not doing anything. There's no personality, nothing going on in this goodie bag. But with that said, I find that kids that I know my kids, that they do get a little bored, you know, like after a while and they have the Guinea pig, you know, for a year or so. And these things live.

Just about 8 years. Another thing to research is the lifespan.

Yeah. My biggest thing with the Guinea pigs is, is the cage, the cleaning of the cage. Right. It's because it's stinks and they're actually kind of bigger cages, right. A little bit more space. And so, and some of them have like levels. We never went fancy with the levels, but you are right. They have like levels that they can, you know, negotiate really all these ramps and stuff for exercise. My Guinea pigs hardly moved at all.

And you can get very intricate. In fact, you can, you know, we had, we had rabbits that were indoors. They were in a cage for a while. And then gradually we realized they need more room. And so they were outdoors in a two-story hut and then gradually we realized they need more room and we ended up, so it's three stories. So.

That, that sounds like so hard. Well, no, they're.

Out, it's outside. So it's like the actual ground and I scooped it out every once in a while, but yeah, they can get elaborate.

Wow. I love the no cleaning.

It got to where I was tired of it smelling inside. And, and I don't know if you're the one that told me this, but when we got Guinea pigs and I was reading about them, they're so social in a room where like where your kitchen, where you talk to them and they get socialization. And I was like, it's pretty gross to have the smell of your Guinea pig in your kitchen. That lasted us about a month before I was like, okay, he's going in the bedroom.

I kept, I kept our Guinea pigs and my daughter's room because they were hers. So if they smelled it a would bother her and hopefully trigger her to do something about it. 

Say mom,.

Yeah, it basically, I reminded her to feed them. Cause they, they do squeak and they say like, you know, yeah. So they do that. Um, but no, the cleaning, you know, the problem was the caterer was way too big. And when she was young, she was like, uh, you know, when we first got a Guinea pig, she was like third or fourth grade. And honestly the cage was too big. And when you open it, it's not like somebody can just throw into a bag. You really keep everything out. Yeah. Yeah. And it got all over whenever she would do it, it was more of a mess then not.

So that was hard.

You have to buy like stuff to clean your Guinea pig, Cade, like squeaky clean. It's called. I think it's like a specific cleaner that's non-toxic and all that. And I was like, oh my goodness. I think that is cleaner than my bathroom. Most of the time, you know? Cause it was like, wow, it gets a lot of attention or else it's too,.

Or else it stinks. It's funny. My brother has, um, I think he has two Guinea pigs and they love them. They, him and his kids, he loves them. So he really, I could see, he probably is the cleaner of the group, but the kids play with it a lot play with both of them, but they make birthday parties for it and they, oh my God, that's good. Guinea. I have to give props to my brother such good Guinea pig owners. Wow. They make like mazes where the food at the end and have them go through these cardboard mazes.

And so they make all these things for them to do. That's awesome. They even take them out in a playpen and play with them. So.

We had a leash for our Guinea pig and we didn't come outside. It got loose and I'm telling you, it was so fast. I ever have thought the thing is like a blob. It barely moves. And then he got like a taste of freedom. And I had like five of my neighbor, adult trying to catch it. He was so fat.

Oh my God. So funny, 

So the Guinea pig, you know, her first Guinea pig died. Um, and, and it was sad, you know, it's, I have to say the loss of a pet there's so much love. Right. Because it's usually one of their first losses it's.

Out that. Yeah, for sure.

So all of a sudden these conversations come up about, you know, where they go and all that stuff. And what I also found, you know, my daughter was, felt very guilty and I, I felt this when I lost a pet, you know, like as if you weren't a good caregiver, you know? So she was devastated also because she felt that she didn't do all she could. And, and it's true. Let me tell you, she did not do all. She could, she was very accurate, but I have felt that too, where it's like, you know, I lose a pen.

I was like, oh, I could have been a better pet owner and I want to do it again. Yeah. Question. Do you get them another one? I mean, after, I don't know why I did mean I did. I ended up getting her another one. I did wait and we went to the humane society and I was like, we're getting a Guinea pig. That is three times the age. So now we only have half the life because they are there, they're there and they need homes. Right. So we go and before I seen her, but I wanted her to have the opportunity to try again and be a better pet owner.

I was saying, uh that's. So kind of you for a second chance.

Well, everybody deserves a second chance, but not a third. Right. So yeah. So we go to the humane society and, and we're talking like we waited like probably almost a year later. I, it wasn't like I did it right out. So I was like, okay. So we went to the humane society and of course, you know, you go there and they say they're brothers and cannot be split. Right. Said, it's so funny. I do like because these two ones like short hair and the other one's spiky and I'm like, I don't know I could be wrong, but we brought the brothers home so she could try again.

Meanwhile, they hated each other. They would fight and bite each other. I've never seen Guinea pigs fight, but these two did not love each other. So let her try again. But honestly, no, it wasn't that successful. But after that round of guinea pigs, she did learn that that's not for her.

Well, we went through five hermit crabs before we realized, no, let's not give her another try. They died too early. I will also say we got that song and dance too. About the brothers say, one of the funny things that happened to us was we had two rabbit that apparently I think were siblings, but one of them died and stuck in another rabbit to keep it company. And when we went to the humane society and we found this other rabbits, it was available and we were asking, how do you unite the two, you know, how do you get them together? It's rabbits will fight.

And so you have to introduce them in a certain way. And you have to present them with a certain sort of like a mini trauma so that they bond together. And so they said, for example, in a, in a box next to each other or in the same box, but go on a car ride. Cause that can be kind of traumatic for them. And so they lived through the trauma together and suddenly they're buddies. So we decided we were just going to put them in the same box and put our cat next to it. Cause that would be traumatic. But it worked out to the cat, the trauma was, it worked they're buddies.

I heard that. I mean, I know like, you know, we have three dogs and you know,, 1 had to like almost bite the other one.

Figure is dominant. I was going to return.

When I was like, there was no body in my home.

And my daughter about this podcast too. And she said, well, one of the great things is that if you have a pet, a dog, they can replace household appliances, like vacuum cleaners and dishwashers.

That's a good point. That is a good point. When I dropped stuff on the floor, my dogs always, which is so actually helpful. I think that's helpful. We actually,.

We use the term vacuum when we draft something, we tell the Dog's vacuum.

I had a friend who named their dog Hoover. Right. Like I said, they did that on purpose, but yeah. So what would you say with all your, your pets has been the best pet for, for a kid for first pet?

Oh my gosh. Well, so my answer to that is strictly based on my dog is so good. I mean that, uh, you know, other pets like a Guinea pig, they're just not as social and they don't interact in the same way as a dog. You know, even cats, not even at, not even close to a dog. So I think a warmup, you know, when your kids are really young, I think a Guinea pig or a gerbile is great because they don't, they don't, they don't require quite as much, I guess, attend, but a Dog, oh my gosh.

But one of my daughters has anxiety and I mean, this dog is so tolerant, sleeps on the bed with her practically in a headlock daughter feels so safe and canyon ship. And the Dog just can sense when somebody's upset or afraid or anything. They're always glad to see you. They're just so social. So to me like, oh my gosh, a dog is just, there's no replacing what I feel about the dog for it, for my kids. My kids just adore that dog.

I think at the end of the day, people ask me, should they get a pet for their kid? My response is really always sure. I mean, I think pets are awesome and they can take a lot, but just be prepared for it to be your pet. You know, even.

They're going to, you know, oh, I'm going to take it when I go to college. It's like, just be prepared that you may have it forever.

Yeah. It does become your pet because usually you're okay with that. Yeah. Because it's a family member, you know, there's nothing more exciting than bringing home this beautiful animal. Right. And you have a new family member. It's like, you know, I'll call my mom and be like, oh,.


I agree. You know? And it's like, and it's like, you know, a gerbil, you know, so it is, there's nothing better than that. And it is so exciting. It's part of the.

Family. It's.

True. Yeah. And I, and I do agree with you with, uh, the dogs. I don't think everyone's a dog person, but I do agree with the dogs or any non caged animal, whether that's a cat or fat that's running around. I don't know. But because I feel that, you know, when they're cage, you really have to make the effort to go clean the cage and also like, yeah. And also play with it. And I feel like the Guinea, pigs and gerbils and things like that, eventually they lose the excitement and they go away. Absolutely. And whereas a dog or a cat or something that's outside, um, they don't like you lose the interest because they're always there.

They're going to climb the.

They are, ready to play.

Anything and they're going to come up to you. And so it does make them more interactive with the.

Yes. Yes. I agree. Totally. A dog just feels to me like totally different kind of a companion, but we're done. My husband had a bird, he's had some words, but he says he wants another bird. He loves words. He says, this bird sings. It, it follows me around the house. And I'm thinking really like, I, I have had a really good friend growing up who had birds too, but they didn't seem to be like that kind of a pet. But I guess if you have one that's very social.

They can, I suppose.

Well, it's funny. Cause I know people have birds and they like, yeah, they love them. They're landing on their fingers. They're there, there's something I've never had a bourbon. They kind of freak me out, flying around where I don't know where they're going. And it kind of freaks me out a little bit, but people that have them seem to really love them and love them landing on them and yeah. They fly around the house. So I think, yeah, that might be one thing. Um, cause I, I do have parents that ask a lot about pets. Right. I had this friend that, you know, really was thinking of getting Guinea pigs for her son and they really wanted a pet and, and it was funny.

So she was asking me about Guinea pigs. And I said, why don't you take mine for a week more people? I was like, we should have pet libraries. Right. Because See what you want. And I said, take them for a week. I have to, you know what, my kids are not playing with them and they would love a vacation.

My gosh. Like VBRO.

Exactly just rent, rent,.

Such a good idea because I think people really would like to try it out to see if their kid, you know, and, and frankly my daughter's allergic to a lot of things. And so it would have been nice to go if you rented your pet out for a week, then.

It's a great idea. Right. So first of all, it was good for my Guinea pigs because they got like a vacation where someone was like loving them. Right. Good for the family. Because they learned that they did not want one. Um, I was like, no, take them. And they ended up and they ended up getting a dog, but I, yeah, for all those business people out there pet rentals and credit Real Life Momz.

We learned a number a long time ago and the kids went through this phase where you could get the little robotic pet that you had to feed. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. It's like that only it's real.

And you can try them and get idea and yeah, so that, that was good. Cause you know, we had multiple pets that we can rent out. I think for me, I, I never regret getting my kid a pet even if, even if it's ends up being my chore and they don't take care of yeah.

Usually like my family that, so many of the things that are, can be hard about having an animal turn out to be in some way, teach there's like a positive.

And at the end and at the end of the day, like nothing loves you more. No. And also just unconditionally the one thing that never holds a grudge is always happy to see you, whether you're there in a cage or, you know, waiting by the door. Totally. And I think that having that feeling of just something unconditionally loving you is that's important part. And I think it's such a great thing for kids to have, you know, their net like your dog or your Guinea pig is never mad at you.

You can ignore that thing for days. You know, you need it. It's like they're not holding a grudge. And what else in life really does that? Nothing. No.

Can't they don't frown at you. They don't criticize.

No judging. They never judging you know? And I mean, that's such a positive thing for a kid to be around, you know, they can, they can talk to a dog or, or their animal and you know, if they're not happy, you know, just petting an animal can release endorphins. Right. I mean, oh.

Totally. Yes.

Yeah. So there's so much positive around it. I mean the only part that's hard is the actual care, but everything else is so so much.

Oh my gosh. See, I totally agree. I've never regretted it. One second of having pets, all my pets, I love them. Just fabulous. They bring me so much joy.

 Even if they don't live up to the taking care stand, there is, I mean, they always are still healthy. We'll feed the dog. They will let them out. We'll come on a walk. You know, just that feeling of being able to take care of something. It is. It's all good. I give thumbs up for having a pet. I'm a big fan. I don't, I don't give thumbs up for nine pets. I would never do that again. I no longer after last caged animal died, we said that's it no more, no more cages, no more tanks.

I won't do any more of those because I don't like to clean them. Um, right. Dogs. Yes. I mean, my husband's allergic to cats, so unfortunately we cannot have a cat. Um, I do like cats too, but, um, but yeah, but I'm, I love having, you know, I love having three dogs, even though they're like chaotic and I mean to walk them, I either have to bring another person with me or I have to go twice. Yeah. Because I can only handle two. That's great. But it's still worth it. Totally worth it. Still totally worth it.

I think at the end of the day, we're we're saying that yes, yes. Animals there, they bring a lot of joy, a lot of unconditional love, right? Yeah.

Yes. A hundred percent. I could not say enough about yes. Having a, Doug has brought me so much happiness.

Yeah. And kids can learn a lot from whether they actually take care of it or not. Um, but I think the end result is when you decide to get a pet for your child or you, you know, it will become a family pet and know that you will be involved.

That's right. You.

Will. Well, I hope we don't scare anyone off from getting an animal. I hope we are. I hope we were able to, you know, let, let moms know that it is really good. You have animals.

So good. It is amazing to watch your child learn how to help take care of a living animal. It's fabulous. So many great things about having a pet.

So we give two thumbs up for pets. Um, but choose your pet wisely and see if you can actually, um, borrow someone's pet first. Good idea. I love that your third takeaway, right. Is that our team and I have, well, Dan, thank you for talking about pets and giving us your insights and experience. Hopefully, we helped someone see the good, bad, and the ugly or whatever is right about having,.

I'd say give it a try. It's so worth it. Oh, so pets will be thankful.

Thank you for listening to today's episode. I hope Jann and I shed some light on having a pet, you know, from our episode that we absolutely adore animals, even though they are sometimes a lot of work. Um, we would love to hear your stories about your pets and your kids. And so come visit us on our Facebook group, Real Life Momz, and don't forget to follow Real Life Momz. So you don't miss an episode.